Given recent events, it certainly appears that the frequency of natural disasters is steadily on the rise. So are the staggering costs of repeated repairs and reconstruction. And, not just in the usual places—California with its wildfires and earthquakes; Florida with its hurricanes; and Oklahoma with its deadly tornadoes—but all across the country. That’s why every state, local, tribal and territorial government should have a current and FEMA-approved Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP).
As of March 31, 2019, FEMA reported that all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five territories (Guam, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands) had FEMA-approved state mitigation plans. A total of 21,073 local governments had current (FEMA-approved or approvable-pending-adoption) local mitigation plans, and an additional 187 tribal governments had current tribal mitigation plans.
Together, these numbers equated to over 87% of the nation’s population living in communities with current mitigation plans. So, why would the remaining near 13% be without a plan? Good question.
HMPs help reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters. In fact, the National Institute of Building Sciences now estimates that for every dollar invested in mitigation saves six dollars in prevented damages (up from four from previous years). But, the benefits don’t stop there. Communities with HMPs gain a better understanding of localized natural hazards, and their residents have the opportunity to share in the decisions made for infrastructure improvements, land use and development, mitigation strategies, etc.
Just as important, having a current and FEMA-approved HMP makes communities eligible for certain types of non-emergency disaster assistance, including funding for Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) mitigation projects. These may include, but are certainly not limited to, shoring up levees, building safe rooms, installing tornado sirens, and purchasing/demolishing vulnerable properties.
Regardless of where your location is on FEMA’s Local Hazard Mitigation Plan Status Map, or where you are in the mitigation planning process, BOLDplanning can help. Our team of certified planning professionals have developed (and updated) HMPs for clients across the country. We have also written numerous mitigation grant applications, resulting in more than $5.6 million in awarded funding.